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Eel Sushi

Eel Sushi

Unagi Sushi

Eel is not part of the original Edo style sushi menu. The reason for this is that Edo (old name of Tokyo) was famous for its fast food industry specializing in Edo style sushi, tempura, soba, and unagi, or eel was no exception. During the Edo period, eel were abundant in the Tokyo area and had a cuisine called the Edomae Unagi. Many unagi chefs existed during the Edo period(a few of them still presently exist throughout Japan) and it was considered a separate profession since it required much skill. Sushi chefs wouldn’t dare to sell eel prepared by themselves because they knew they couldn't beat the taste and would make a fool out of themselves. Renowned sushi restaurants in would usually buy prepared eel from professional unagi chefs.

Eel is a difficult fish to prepare. It is cooked when used as sushi, and never eaten raw. It has a sweet, but earthy aroma, and if it is prepared improperly, the flesh can smell, and become very tough and rubbery. The eel is first filleted, and then grilled on open flame. This gets rid of excess fat under the skin, which is where the unpleasant scent mostly comes from. Then it is steamed to make the meat fluffy and to further drain out the oils. After this, it is once again grilled on open flame while basting it many times with eel sauce (unagi no tare) which is made from the eel trimmings, soy sauce, sugar, and sake (rice wine). 

Eel should be soft, fluffy, and very flaky. It is mild in fat even after the grilling and steaming, and that is what a good eel should taste like. It is pleasant on the palate and should never have a fishy or earthy aftertaste. Crushed Japanese green pepper corn called sansho is often served with eel at eel restaurants. While this is not usually used in sushi restaurants, it stimulates the sweet taste of the eel.

Complete Tutorial on: How to Make Sushi

Also see: Eel in Sushi Fish

Popular style for eel sushi: Nigiri
Popular condiments for eel sushi: Unagi no tare, Sansho (if available)

Category: N/A (Usually grouped with sea eel)